A world class industrial heritage site

Back Again!

Apologies for a break in the blogs: I was away overseas for a while, and then had a computer glitch, but hopefully all is going well again.

In the interval, there was a real drama at the Gas Works Museum, and the story is worth re-telling.

Waste oil for the boiler has always been a bit of a problem, but Tom thought it was solved when he was offered a large quantity (about 18,000 litres) from a fishing boat. This was duly delivered, over two days, in two sucker trucks, supervised by John and Tom.  The oil storage tank was filled to capacity. The following Sunday Tom was in early as usual, and I arrived a little later. Tom had started the burner, and all seemed as usual, but after about 5 minutes the burner cut out. While puzzling what the cause of this might be, I heard a sound like water squirting from a hose, and ran to the back of the boiler, to find oil squirting everywhere. Tom ran to the Anderson room, where he discovered the oil pump had literally exploded, and once again oil everywhere! After some swapping of pumps, and quite mystified as to what had caused the problem, Tom found that the oil would actually not burn. It looked rather brown and soup-like, rather than the usual black colour. By this time, it was getting towards noon, and in the expectation of visitors arriving soon, we decided to try to pump oil from the small grey storage tank at the bottom of the chimney. After clearing the pipes of non-flammable oil, the burner started normally, and ran happily for the remainder of the day.

A couple of days later, the sucker truck came and removed 10,000litres of the bad oil, but we are still left with half a tankful. And even after several days of allowing it to settle, there is no evidence of water settling out, nor do we have any clue as to how the oil was contaminated in the first place. Was it that way in the fishing boat, or was the sucker truck not empty to start with? And if it is water contamination, why does it not separate out? (Any suggestions would be most welcome!)

PS The calliope is out of action again; the vacuum cleaner motor burnt out, as the previous one had done. However, never fear, Glynn has acquired a new blower, which looks very promising – watch this space.